Sunday, September 29, 2013

Si 5

We've been holding Silas's 5th birthday over his head for a little while now, telling him that if he wanted to turn 5, he needed to start acting like a big boy. We may have subtly implied that we had some power over whether or not the big day happened.

Is that terrible? I mean, don't answer that.

Desperate times, people.

And then, one day, he just started acting 5, or at least somewhere in the vicinity.

As told to my mom and dad, over the phone: "I'm a big boy now! I don't act naughty anymore...I don't hit...I don't cause trouble...I don't scream...No body calls me a maniac..." :)

(For the record, it was mostly Calvin who called him a maniac. Mostly.)

We thought we'd better hold up our end of the deal and let him turn 5.
So we strung up the paper plate birthday banner and got down to business.

(So cute when kids get all embarrassed during Happy Birthday!)

Our birthday treat consisted of random vanilla ice cream I found in the freezer, some sprinkles, and a lone candle. But at least it was green.

The kids acted like we were presenting them with platters of fair food, caffeine pop, and Krispy Kremes.

Life Lesson :: Set your own bar fairly low. You'll never regret it.

Okay, let me explain.

Homeboy does not play with toys. Ever.

For two years in a row I've been asked to fill out a pre-school questionnaire listing, among other things, his "favorite toy", to which I reply: "Silas doesn't play with toys." Both years I feel bad, like maybe it wasn't the right time for complete honesty.

He begs for light switches, small empty containers with interesting lids, extension cords, night lights, flash lights, and an actual computer of his own.

He recently deactivated our screen saver in a matter of minutes. He cannot see a button without pushing it. He's the best kind of weird, that's all I'm saying.

A couple months ago we found a disk of pictures from Korea that we never knew we had (don't ask) and this was on it. I still can't look at it without laughing. Somehow, it vindicates me. From what? I don't know. But the pressure is off this mama. Dude was like this from the womb.

So, yada yada, I took a $5 off coupon to Ace and bought him his own power strip, 3 night lights, and two plug adapters. Sue me.

 In all our years of parenting, no child has ever been more excited by a gift.

 He spontaneously cheered!

 Then we killed the mood by asking him to smile with his new "toys", and you know how that goes.

Look natural!

Next night?  Spicy cucumbers and free birthday cheesecake from Sunny.

Next night? Family party. I made this birthday treat. (So good.)

It's a lot of birthdaying, not gonna lie. But every year, we somehow feel luckier than the last.

We got a really great batch of kids. They match us quirk by imperfection. I'm a complete goner over the way God put us all together, so sure that what we needed was each other.

Happy Birthday, Silas.

You really are 5.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Go-To Summer-to-Fall Outfit

We're dealing right now with that dreamy kind of air that makes for a brisk walk to school, then turns deliciously warm and blissful before noon.

So, in a perfect world, I would rummage around the road-side 10/$1 mini gourd stand in skinny cords and a chunky knit, but in real life, I had sweat lines in my old t-shirt today from just 10 minutes in the school pick-up line.

As I've said about 800 times, I'm a real jeans-tee-and-ponytail kind of lady. (Why am I almost 40 but it still feels ironic to refer to myself as a "lady"? When does that stop?)

But once in a while, I twist up some holiday hair and wear something sparkly.

When that happens, I usually need something grungy to balance things out, like wrecked-out jeans or beat-up Converse.

I'm a study in contrasts.

A little bit country, a little bit suburban mom preppy urbanite biker-chick ...

I'm practically Gaga in my jeans, with my knee all hanging out like it ain't no thing. That's all I'm saying.

Fear me. I bend to no one's expectations.

This is the perfect outfit for Summer-Fall because it gives the wearer the sensation that they've finally moved on from the dog days of tank tops and Old Navy flip flops worn down to nubbins, while still allowing for maximum ventilation and "Hey, it's September!" cuteness.

1 button down, messy-cuffed, messy-tucked
1 pair of jeans, preferably jacked up in the knee, messy-cuffed to just above ankle length
1 pair of sandals, preferably with some hard-ware, dark in color if the shirt is light
1 lightweight scarf, messy-looped, preferably from fashionABLE
1 flea market bracelet
1 slouchy, colorful bag, preferably from TJ Maxx, circa early 2000's

* Incidentally, these are the only jeans I own that fit me well. I've had them for a very long time, which you may already have wisely deduced.

They're now discontinued by Gap, and adding insult to injury, even if they did bring them back, the entire corporation has discontinued my size. Now what, Gap? Is this how you repay my year of service, circa 2000?

* Incidentally numerou dos: The scarf I'm wearing is the freebie offered by Mocha Club for signing up. Join my FPFG team, which promotes Economic Freedom for Ethiopian women, for just $9 a month.

So, what's your go-to outfit for this time of year?

Is your weather as wonderfully psychotic as ours?

If your stomach rolls made sweat lines in your t-shirt while you waited in school pick-up line, would you blog about it?

Me either.

Yours in Fashion and in Not,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ruby River's Collage Wall

We've lived here for over a year and there are still a lot of little nooks that I've never taken the time to share. Sometimes, I just haven't thought about it, or I had other, more important things to talk about, like walking in pee, the time I forgot about vinyl records, or the time Cory fell into a slobbering slumber while we were on a double date.  But other times, I decide not to show things because they aren't finished, or they're kinda hodge-podge or boring, or they're just not cool enough. Or the desk is too messy or the lighting is bad that day.

Isn't that lame?

So I'm going to start sharing the nooks, baby. Because I'm done applying standards to myself that I don't apply to anyone else. I love seeing ya'll'ns's nooks. I hope they aren't perfect. Unfinished? Show me anyway. Hodge Podge and slightly unoriginal? You make me feel human.

At the end of the day, I care a little bit. I enjoy puttering around the house and making things look cute. But it's a hobby, not my life's work. I'm just gonna assume that's alright with you.

I find myself particularly enamored of collage walls, these days.
(Enamored of? Enamored with? Cory and I have had this discussion about 18,000 times and we've never drawn a hard conclusion.)
(And yes, we are as interesting and spicy a couple as you'll ever hope to find. Why do you ask?)

The collage obsession is raging around here for two reasons:
1) Our walls are all white and this is a great way to fill up that space with as much color as we crave.
2) It's all about the thrift, party people. Collages are the best way ever to dig out all of the junk you've been hoarding for years. Dig it on out, throw it together. Stunning effect. Or at least "interesting" effect.

I don't usually put a ton of planning into my collages. (Yes, I said collages..stay tuned.) I start with something in the middle and work my way out, making sure the whole thing stays slightly wonky and imbalanced. It's part of the charm.

For Ruby's collage, I started with this piece, because it's one of the coolest, most personal, textured-up, super-colorful works of art I've ever owned. My homegirl Courtney created it just for Rubes. It made me verklempt.

**Court is offering FPFG readers 20% off all orders in her Etsy shop until Oct. 7th! Use the code FLOWERPATCHFG13 at check out.**

This "R" was created entirely by Ruby and I love it. We bought one of those hollow, cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby, then I cut a bunch of scrap tissue paper (most of which came from shopping bag packaging from places like Boden, Aerie, VS...never throw that fun stuff away!) into squares and she ModPodged them on. Kids take risks, you know? They're fearless.

We made this soon after we moved in, having no idea that I would end up finding that delicious quilt while I was at Craft Weekend last February. It was fortuitous.

The bird came from who-knows-where, who-knows-when. I've had it forever but never used it. Shame!

This is one of my favorite verses.
The print came from one of the swooniest Etsy shops - Katy Girl Designs.

We all love Katie Dasiy, right?
I found a boxed set of KD greeting cards eons ago at TJ Maxx. It was before I even knew she was thing. 

I popped one in an old frame and called it done.

 I have always dreamed of having a child who played the harp. The end.

Okay, that was a lie.

These came in a pair from the best thrift store in all of Kansas. I think I paid $2 for the set.

This is Ruby's very favorite art work, lovingly made by her Birth Mama.
Ruby loves riding Buck the Horse with her (birth) Grandma Maggie. This gift = perfection.

Quilt: Bearly Makin' It, Marion KS
Sheets: Target ($5 for the set last week!)
Pillowcase: TJ Maxx
Striped pillow: Allegan Flea Market

Totally forgot to mention that little square frame under the Harpist.
It's a vintage sample of wallpaper that came in the frame when I bought it, ages ago. I liked it, so I kept it in the frame.

There you have it, in all its quirky, hodge-podged, thrifty splendor.

In related news, this happened last week, after much angst and thrashing about. (See: tears.)
In the end, it was the suspense that nearly did her in...the actual pulling wasn't so bad.

Sister Friend is the last of her friends to lose a tooth, but she's making up for lost time by walking around town holding her lower lip down, so you and me and the crossing guard and the cashier at Kroger are all sure to catch it.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking it seems like it's pretty fun to be 7.

Monday, September 23, 2013

On Picnicking Together

"Jesus consistently chose unconventional table fellowship as the sign of God's kingdom. And so faced with a crowd of five thousand, he drives home the message he's been preaching - about the spiritual unimportance of religious and social barriers - by inviting everyone to share a meal on the spot. The point is not the food. It is hands-on learning. Do this, Jesus says, and you'll taste what life in the kingdom of God is like. - Jesus Freak, Sara Miles

I'm stuck lately.

On one hand, I want life and time to be slower, quieter, less crowded, more relaxed.
But on the other hand, I just can't get enough of the messy, ridiculous, hilarious, rowdy people around me, the ones who care for and about me, need me, the ones who just let me be. I want every single one of them. (Even on the days I don't think I do, I somehow know I'm wrong.)

While exhausting, this cluttered-up, chaotic life of ours is both highly entertaining and immensely gratifying.

It's a precarious situation for us die-hard introverts here on 5th Street.

My Sunday started off grumpy and selfish. I didn't want plans in the evening. I wanted to hole up with a book and a blanket and shut all the way down.

But we hopped on our bikes with a jar of pickles and a Pyrex dish of corn, and we rode to the neighborhood harvest picnic.

 Of course it was exactly what my soul needed.

We made friends with our neighbors, because that's what happens when people come together with paper plates of pulled pork and pico, store-bought cookies and jugs of tea.

We buzzed around the buffet in our paper name tags, complimenting this dish and that one, asking for the recipe, pointing to the West or the North, I live right over there.

I never had this before, or at least not like this. I used to run from these situations. I decided they were much too awkward. I had better things to do. I didn't see the beauty of picking up my heavy plate and moving one table over, where my neighbor sat, a stranger to me, but not for long.

So on the one hand, I want more days where I just stay home, just us - just us six.
But on the other hand, I can't get enough of breaking bread with my family - all of them, any of them.

Mealtime is becoming a force to be reckoned with around here. We're scheduled out, and it makes me crazy while it makes me sane. The tables change, the menus change, the faces change, but at dinnertime, every one of us is pared down to our basic needs. We need food and we need community. Magic happens when they land together.

We load up a plate and slow way down, long enough to focus on the eyes around us, to pass high praise for the butterscotch cake, to remember one more time that we were meant to be together.

It's almost as if Jesus wanted it this way.

I wonder sometimes if it's really okay. I worry my kids are losing something in the mix, because that's what some would say. We should really slow down. We should stay home more. We should close our doors.

But I think of all we would suffer from that peace. I think about what it would cost us and I'll take healing over solitude any day. We'll always have our hunker-down days. But on all the others, we'll pass the plate, the bread, the complicated Mexican spaghetti, our last jar of beans.

We'll break that bread and decide to keep on keeping each other.

It's the only way that makes sense.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Steph's Thrifty Half-Bath with the Raddest Walls

Despite all of life's changes, and the way things like moving to the sketchy side of town, shrink-wrapping the budget, trekking across Ethiopia, and living with a Big Kid who grew up in extreme poverty can change the condition of one's heart, I'm still flipping obsessed with interior design.

I like to talk about it, think about it. Sometimes, I even dream about it.

It's not a priority for everyone and it doesn't have to be. Not everyone has to love decorating or even care it, but for those of us who do, it's entirely within reach to have a home that reflects who you are with minimal expense. I believe this to my core.

{first date with Cory, as arranged by Steph and Mark}

Back before blogs, and Pinterest, and Instagram, I met a girl named Stephanie. She lived down the hall from me in the Freshman dorms of Bethel College (the one in Indiana). She wore the best, baggiest plaid flannels from AEO and she once tied a single strand of red beads from the center of her ceiling down to the floor. She went the ironic/obvious route and dubbed it "The Bead".  At the time, it served no purpose other than "conversation piece". In hindsight, it was an unintended lesson on the offbeat things that simply made us happy.

Steph was quirky and weird and stylish (it was the 90's, people!) and funny.

The rest, as they say, is history.


{Propping it up in my first apartment.}

{We really should've been old enough to know better by now...}

Steph has a knack for design. She takes risks and follows her heart. She's lived in several gorgeous newly-built homes over the years, each with unexpected (or "tricky", as she would say) DIY details that add character and make me drool.

Also, she's a fellow Queen of Thrift. She rocks garage sales, spray paint, and TJ Maxx like no body's business.

A few weeks ago she posted pics of her newest project on facebook and I fell madly in love with what she was up to.

Those walls. I mean - GET IN MY HOUSE, repeated-patterned-perfectly-gray-and-white walls.

Yes, friends, she stenciled those walls. This stroke of genius was, in typical fashion, an inexpensive fix to a room that lacked punch. And as expected, I'm now trying to drum up something to stencil.

Gone are the days of fruit basket, ivy, and ducks. Stencils are re-entering the modern age, just like high-waisted jeans and crop tops.

And in the scheme of things, aren't we all better off stenciling a wall than baring our midriff?

Graciously, she agreed to let me share it with you. This is Steph today. I forced her to include a photo of herself so everyone can rave about her hair. (She's also the reigning Queen of good hair, which seems really unfair to the rest of us but especially to me...)

And now, I'll hand it over to the lady with the spray paint:

"I've used a lot of orange spray paint in my day...but this one is by far my favorite."
                         - Stephanie  

One day I came to the realization that my relationship with the half bath was coming to an end.  I felt torn because I still really liked the tricky paneling, but the top half of the walls just weren't doing it for me any more.  So I did what any logical person would do...and I got on Pinterest.

Now being an interior decorator myself, I had an idea of the changes I wanted to make.  I wanted the look of wallpaper and knew that I could buy a bunch of decals to achieve this, but since decaling the whole room would have cost more then I wanted to spend...I opted for a less expensive route and went with a stencil from Hobby Lobby instead (plus I had their 40% off what could go wrong?!)

First, I started with the easiest part...redoing the mirrors and frames.  At the same time I was redoing my half bath, I was also on a mission to switch out all the decor above my kitchen cabinets, which is where I found my lovely family of Silhouettes.  The silhouettes were great, but they were all in black frames as was the mirror in the half bath.  So I gave them a quick update by spray painting them orange. (Except for the two silhouettes of our boys we had made in Epcot...those stayed black...and speaking of Disney souvenirs...trickiest ones ever!!)

After that I painted the top half of my walls cream to match the paneling, I then started working on the stenciling.  I was really never worried about this part too much, because I've done plenty of stenciling before and have even given presentations on it in college (You know, back in the day when it was cool to stencil vines and flowers around your house, and then for an extra super tricky bonus I also demonstrated the fine art of Sponge and Feather Painting...I'm sure I used the paint colors of mint green and peach, because they were all the rage back then.  Totally got an A on the presentation because my Professor's wife had just sponge painted their nursery...) wrap this up.  Am I happy with how the bathroom turned out?  Yes.
Would I recommend stenciling one wall or small project like a table or dresser?  Yes. 
Would I ever recommend that you stencil a vine, a goose, an apple, or a heart any where in your house? No.  
Would I ever stencil a bathroom like this again, that had 9 foot ceilings and many places where I was standing on the top step on my tippy toes while straining my neck trying to reach those naughty corner places? No.  
Will I always use decals from now on?  Yes.  
Which one would I use?  This one.  (My friend owns this store and I've used tons of their decals before in both my own home and clients.)
Do I think mint green and peach will ever make a comeback?  One could only hope! :)
Follow Stephanie on Instagram under the name trickytroyer

Source list:
Orange paint: Valspar Orange Maple (glossy)
Gray paint: Olympic - Dover Gray D58-4
Mirror - TJ Maxx ($30) (purchased 3 years ago)
Bird hook - Marshalls  ($5.99) (purchased 3 years ago)
Silhouettes - garage sales and flea markets (50 cents - $1 each)
Large silhouette - DIY creation by Steph, involving decoupaged book pages and a vinyl decal
Cabinet knobs - Hobby Lobby ($5)